04/29/2016

Tribe hits jackpot | Boston’s shadowy zoning board | Cage-free campaign will prevail

 
Happening Today
 
Walsh radio
 

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, dogged by questions this week about the ongoing fed probe into alleged union strong-arm tactics, will hit the airwaves for his monthly "Ask the Mayor" radio segment, WGBH-FM 89.7, 12 p.m.

 
 
Workforce grants
 

Gov. Charlie Baker joins Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker to announce Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grant awards, Boston Education Skills and Training Corp., 33 Harrison Avenue, Suite 310, Boston, 1:30 p.m.

 
 
DPH public hearing
 

The Department of Public Health will hear public input on a number of proposed regulatory changes concerning school immunization requirements, treatment of people exposed to rabies, tuberculosis treatment and other matters, Public Health Council Room, Department of Public Health, 250 Washington St., 10 a.m.

 
 
Gloucester police chief to be honored by White House
 

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello will be recognized as a "Champion of Change" in a White House ceremony recognizing Campanello’s launch of an initiative to help connect drug addicts with treatment and later partnering to create the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Program, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, South Court Auditorium, Washington D.C., 1 p.m.

 
 
Today's Stories
 
Mashpee Wampanoags hit jackpot with yesterday’s Brockton vote
 

Following months of hearings, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted, 4-1, yesterday to deny a license to a team hoping to transform the Brockton Fairgrounds into a resort casino, citing the uncertainty created by the presence of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s own First Light casino in nearby Taunton. Bruce Mohl of CommonWealth magazine reports the tribe competition was clearly the trump card that doomed the Brockton proposal.

In addition, some commissioners felt the proposal from Rush Street Gaming fell short of the bar set by the state’s gaming law, which envisioned three world-class resort casino strategically located around the state. Chairman Stephen Crosby called the project “less than a knockout,” reports Sean P. Murphy of the Globe.

The city of Brockton is clearly one of the big losers in the decision. Although a citywide vote approved the project by only a narrow margin, the sheer scope of the planned casino would have been transformative for the City of Champions. Another big loser: Fairgrounds property owner George Carney, who had earlier bid for a license at Raynham Park. “I’m just disappointed because the city of Brockton needs the work so bad and the city needs the money so bad,” Carney is quoted as saying in the Cape Cod Times.

Of course, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was the real winner. The tribe and its supporters hailed the commission’s decision, saying it cleared the way for the tribe to claim its ancestral rights while still providing the state with a flow of income. “I commend the Gaming Commission for making a difficult but wise and just decision,” said Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell in an Enterprise story.

 
 
Pay attention lawmakers: US Treasury says non-competes can harm economy
 

For years, critics of non-compete agreements in Massachusetts have argued that they harm the state’s innovation economy by not allowing workers to more easily move from company to company. Now critics have some pretty impressive ammo in making their arguments: A US Treasury report that’s critical of how non-competes are applied by companies, writes Kyle Cross at BostInno. Though not happy that Treasury didn't call for complete elimination of non-competes, Cross notes: “As the federal reports continue to lean on the side of reform, we are bound to see more states follow suit with progressive actions against the antiquated shackles we call ‘noncompetes’ in the tech industry.”

BostInno
 
 
The shadowy Boston Zoning Board of Appeals
 

The Globe’s Adrian Walker has an excellent column this morning about how the longtime head of the Dorchester House, a community health center, found out the hard way how difficult it can be to build in Boston if you don’t please certain members of the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals. Specifically, the union representatives on the board.

Adrian explains the details of Dorchester House’s plight. But suffice to say, the zoning board has become a central player in the ongoing fed investigation into alleged strong-arm tactics employed by unions to force contractors to use union labor on construction projects. For years during the Menino era, developers would privately say that the board was ultimately the club the administration used to get its way on major projects. Now the board’s behind-the-scenes clout, wielded for years without close scrutiny, is starting to get the close attention it’s long deserved.

Boston Globe
 
 
Sen. Flanagan: It’s time for online Lottery
 

As Treasurer Deb Goldberg mulls whether to introduce fantasy sports into the Lottery’s offerings, state Sen. Jennifer Flanagan writes in a CommonWealth magazine opinion piece that there’s better ways to boost the state’s Lottery revenues. “The stark reality of changing demographics is threatening to leave our state behind. We all know that the future — whether it is for newspapers, retail stores, job or apartment hunting -- is online. Simply put, younger people increasingly turn to the internet for everything, and increasingly that includes lottery tickets.” And so that means online Lottery games are essential, she says.

Flanagan adds: “Instead of putting the Commonwealth in the business of fantasy sports, let’s continue to allow thousands of people of all ages to enjoy the same level of sophisticated platforms that DraftKings or FanDuel offer, but by playing our state Lottery.”

The opinion piece also ran in Fitchburg’s Sentinel & Enterprise.

CommonWealth
 
 
Don’t worry: Cage-free eggs ballot question may not be needed
 

Opponents of a ballot question that would require all eggs sold in the state be from hens that are cage-free are taking their case to the state Supreme Judicial Court, arguing that Attorney General Maura Healey erred when she approved the language for the proposed November referendum, reports the Globe’s Joshua Miller.

Protect the Harvest Action Fund, a group allied with the agriculture industry, may or may not win the battle over whether the cage-free question should on the November ballot. But the industry is definitely losing the war over the factory-farming methods of raising chickens for eggs.

As Scot Lehigh writes in the Globe, the nationwide campaign against factory farming is already having a major impact, with or without a ballot question. Major corporations like McDonald’s, Walmart, Costco, Taco Bell and others are already pledging to go cage-free eggs within coming years.

The key takeaways, as we see it, are that market forces are already shifting away from factory farming methods and that the possible cage-free referendum -- while not something to be feared (hey, it would be democracy in action) -- is probably not needed in the long run. This anti-cruelty-to-animals campaign is going to prevail one way or the other.

 
 
Senate votes to raise tobacco purchasing age to 21, but will it work?
 

As expected, the Senate voted yesterday to make it harder for young people to legally buy tobacco products in Massachusetts, approving a bill that would raise the minimum tobacco-purchasing age from 18 to 21, reports MassLive’s Gintautas Dumcius. The bill still needs House approval. 

But Lindsey Stroud, writing in the Herald, says similar age and other legal restrictions haven’t stopped young kids from boozing or smoking pot – and tougher age restrictions on smoking may even make matters worse. “The evidence shows increasing the age limit required to consume tobacco and e-cigarettes will be a wasted effort that could actually lead to such negatives as a loss of tax revenues, wasting police resources, and higher smoking rates. Even worse, it would send a false and dangerous message to an entire generation of Americans that it is proper for the government to tell adults how to live their lives.”

Boston Herald
 
 
T’s top pensioner working for contractor
 

Sean McCarthy, who receives the largest annual pension payment from the MBTA at $98,000, is now working for a contractor who provides the agency with engineering services, Erin Smith of the Herald reports. McCarthy’s new employer, STV Inc., says it did not discuss hiring McCarthy while he worked at the T.

Boston Herald
 
 
Budget earmarks hit record levels
 

As the budget process moves to the Senate, the document already contains a record number of earmarks and special budget items, Isaiah Thompson of WGBH reports. The House tacked on 1,307 such line items, which make up less than 1 percent of the overall budget.

WGBH
 
 
Worcester-area Muslims earn delegate spots
 

Organized by the Worcester Islamic Center, dozens of Muslims from central Massachusetts took part in a caucus earlier this month and earned two delegate seats for the Democratic National Convention in July, Tom Quinn of Worcester Magazine reports. “Our community generally hasn’t been involved in politics,” said Noman Khanani, one of the delegates. “But (Bernie Sanders’) campaign really resonated with me.”

Worcester Magazine
 
 
New hires extend Baker-Christie connection
 

The Massachusetts Republican Party has hired the former deputy finance director for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign, extending the years-long connection between Christie and Gov. Charlie Baker, Jim O’Sullivan of the Globe reports. Around the time the GOP hired Elise Dickens, Baker also tapped her husband, Tom Dickens, to be his administration’s director of external affairs.

Boston Globe
 
 
Weymouth Mayor faces $47 million question
 

Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund says he’ll take until next week to decide whether to accept an offer of $47 million worth of mitigation from a company that wants to build a massive natural gas compressor station in the city, Chris Burrell of the Patriot Ledger reports. Spectra Energy says it will pay the city to fix buildings and roads, hire police, firefighters and teachers in exchange for dropping its legal challenges against the project.

Patriot Ledger
 
 
Banned in Hingham: 'Arabian Nights'
 

To finish up this week’s MASSterList, we leave you with Howard Kelman, who is not a happy Hingham parent. From Kelman in the Hingham Journal:

“As the parent of a Hingham High junior, I was initially ecstatic to hear that The Powers That Be have stepped in to protect my daughter. I heard that the theme of the Junior Prom was supposed to be the Arabian Nights. But in an effort to protect the students from being guilty of the heinous crime of cultural Appropriation, a change to the boardwalk theme was ordered. Really?? Let’s not pass this off as a ‘teaching moment’ or preventing some horrific act. It is political correctness run amok.”

He makes pretty good points about whether reading ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ to children before bed or watching Disney’s ‘Alladin’ movie fall into the same cultural-appropriation category. If so, then: Shame on you, parents and Disney!

Wicked Local (Hingham)
 
 
Sunday public affairs TV
 

This Week in Business, NECN, 12:30 p.m. Guests: Steve Crosby, Massachusetts Gaming Commission chairman, on the decision not to award a license to a casino plan for Brockton; Jodi Goldstein, Harvard Innovation Labs managing director, on their incubator programs.  

CEO Corner, NECN, 8:30 p.m. Deborah DiSanzo, the general manager of IBM Watson Health, explains why the unit is moving its headquarters to Kendall Square. Plus, the importance of partnerships and advice for would-be women techies.

On the Record, WCVB Channel 5, 11 a.m. Guest: Ron Kaufman, Massachusetts Republican National Committeeman.

Matter of Fact with Fernando Espuelas, WCVB Channel 5, 11:30 a.m., a new weekly program hosted by commentator, author, national radio host Fernando Espuelas.

 
 
Today's Headlines
 
Metro
 

Outside panel to review Boston’s tourism office - Boston Globe

How a dispute over a sign is thwarting development - Boston Globe

Ex-T boss collecting $98G pension, now working for transit contractor - Boston Herald

In The Boston Fire Department, A Search For More Diversity - WGBH

 
Massachusetts
 

Mass. Economic Growth Ticked Back Up In 1st Quarter - WBUR

It’s time for online Lottery - CommonWealth Magazine

Massachusetts Senate approves bill raising minimum tobacco buying age to 21 - MassLive

Brockton casino shot down by Gaming Commission - Boston Globe

Opponents call cage-free egg ballot question rotten - Boston Globe

New Bedford City Council floats anti-panhandling ideas - Standard-Times

State to take over Cape water program - Cape Cod Times

Worcester area Muslims step up as presidential election delegates - Worcester Magazine

Baker touts commuter rail improvements in Ashland - MetroWest Daily News

 
Nation
 

Many see a misdeal in ‘woman’s card’ remark - Boston Globe

Federal lawsuit alleges discrimination at The New York Times - Boston Globe

 
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